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Do we get nicer as we age?

Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Everyone says you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but according to a recent report, if you wait very patiently, your personality could positively change as you age.

"Several large studies found personality changes naturally over the course of adulthood. Researchers call it the 'maturity principle.'"

"From the ages of 20 to 65, apparently we become less angry and neurotic and more agreeable and emotionally stable."

The Wall Street Journal reports personalities change in response to life events - such as starting relationships or a career. But most notably, researchers say being happy earlier in life could change your personality in your later years.

Scientists have divided human personality into what is dubbed "The Big Five" categories: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability and openness.

Within each category are sets of behaviors, such as anger or friendliness, that can change in people as they get older.

According to a study published in the Journal of Personality, researchers studied more than 16,000 participants over four years. They found those who were happy at the start of the study became not only significantly more emotionally stable, responsible and agreeable, but also more introverted at the end of the study.

So we apparently become nicer with age - and don't go out as much. But one researcher says because personality is 50 percent innate and 50 percent learned, these changes take time.

As he tells The Wall Street Journal, "You start by changing the behavior and then, if you can maintain that new behavior over time, it gets encoded."

The researchers also note the potential to identify more personality traits aside from "The Big Five" - meaning personalities could change even more frequently than what is known.

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ChingOW Mango April 26 2014 at 11:43 PM

I have no degrees - just a lot of street smarts and I'm thinking the reason some people seem to get nicer as they age is very simple to figure out. They just no longer give a sh*t - it becomes the - Yeah whatever personality!

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mdjjtap April 26 2014 at 1:44 PM

In my experience this is basically true. I have worked as a geriatric social worker for over 40 years with some very ill people. Most people mellow nicely. A few do not. They are usually folks with untreated or undiagnosed psychiatric problems

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1 reply
ardeiat mdjjtap April 26 2014 at 2:52 PM

Morbus Alzheimer for instance! That age - ilness is very dificult to be diagnosed, causing heavy psychiatric problems!!

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Normie Baby April 26 2014 at 1:42 PM

I am far less patient than I was. This is because I know the time left to me is too short to invest in cajoling & reasonably appealing to another's intelligence. If I know something to be true & I tell it to you but you deny that truth, then I'm finished. And so are you, far as I'm concerned.

Sometimes, if it's a family member I care for, I can get pretty darn cranky knowing that I will have to watch them suffer the consequences of their ignorance. Happens waaay to often.

So, at least as far as I am concerned, this article is baloney.

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baggersrnutz April 26 2014 at 1:26 PM

When we were younger my wife and i would have sex in every room, now that we are older we just pass each other in the hall and say F U , so much for the bogus theory in this article !

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1 reply
sprreg baggersrnutz April 26 2014 at 1:38 PM

ah life and the constant battle of the sexes.. good luck baggers

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tgarfi1010 April 26 2014 at 1:22 PM

Having encountered many elderly in my work, it seems to me that they became more of what they had been in their youth. The change from the cynic and nasty person to the elderly sweet one is a myth.

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1 reply
Normie Baby tgarfi1010 April 26 2014 at 1:43 PM

Totally true.

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baggersrnutz April 26 2014 at 1:22 PM

Baloney, the more the cynical old crmudgeon I get !

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schlauger1 April 26 2014 at 1:12 PM

I'm 59 and a pretty nice guy, but I've been a hardcore cynic my whole life, and I can get grumpy as heck. I know others in my age group and older, who are real sweethearts. NOT!

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lkemer April 26 2014 at 12:56 PM

Sorry, but the truth is "A TIGER NEVER CHANGES HIS STRIPES". If you are nasty, mean, cruel and arrogant at a young age, you will be the same at an old age. You might take a little longer to show these qualities at an older age, as your reflexes to events slows considerably but they are these qualities are still within you. CONCLUSION: Hang (in your younger age) with people who are kind, gentle, sincere, unselfish, loving and humorous. Then you can choose to keep these friends to cherish in your older age as well, that is if they still want you as a friend.

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dickn2000b April 26 2014 at 12:32 PM

So, according to this brain damaged "study" we mellow out as we get older. Let me tell you something, I'm 72 years old and four times as nasty as I was at age 36 and sixteen times more likely to tell you to kiss my ass. Oh yeah...to those researchers...KISS MY ASS!!

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2 replies
xraybrain dickn2000b April 26 2014 at 12:53 PM

I am 60 . I don't overtly show my increasingly nasty nature. But I am getting more nasty

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ovidp dickn2000b April 26 2014 at 1:59 PM

You are 103% right! The truth is you seem to have little or no patience for stupidity and ignorance, as you get older. Perhaps the inate understandng that one developes, as one gets older, that: it doesn't matter whether the outsiders understand or not becomes irelevent. These Social Scients have to go back to the drawing board!

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miojohol April 26 2014 at 12:27 PM

Hmmm...I can't really say that is true, there quite a few grumpy older people out there.

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1 reply
vafilec_39 miojohol April 26 2014 at 12:35 PM

Yeah REID.

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